Monday, September 27, 2010

JM's Dominican handmade corona earns everyday cigar vote

In my continuing search for great inexpensive cigars, I ran across the JM brand in my most frequently visited party store. I know, I know, I always say to NEVER buy a cigar from someplace that also sells porn and Tiparillos, but I mentored the store owners and at least knew that they were attempting to properly humidify their stock.

They had a small humidor (perhaps 100 cigars) and had a small quantity of about four or five brands. One day, a couple of years back, I overpaid them for a Don Tomas out of desperation. It almost fell apart as soon as I removed it from the wrapper.

I immediately went back into the store and voiced my concern. One of the owners apologized profusely and said I could just take another cigar. No way. What would be the point of that? Unless you give me your entire stock and let me try to revive them to smokability, then I don't want another cigar out of this humidor in the condition that it and its contents are in.

So, I took a pint of vodka instead.

In the course of our conversation, I recommended some specific cigars that they might carry and suggested that they actually use the dried out humidification system they had in the in the humidor. I think they thought that you put a little water in it once and you're good for, say, two or three decades.

Over the course of the next couple of months we had many discussions and I even recommended where they might purchase some decent cigars that they could sell for a reasonable price and make a decent profit.

Last week, I stopped in the store and noticed that their humidor was decently stocked and the humidification system looked recently attended to.

One of the cigars they were offering was JM's Dominican Corona. Through the wrapper it looked like a decently constructed stick. The corona measures 5 1/2 by 42 and boasts a Sumatra shade wrapper with Cuban seed, long filler tobacco. Handmade in the Dominican Republic.

The party store was selling them for $2.99. Through intense interrogation, he told me how much he actually paid for them and I haggled him down to two bucks in return for all of my free consulting work.

Upon removing the cigar from its cellophane wrapper, I discovered that the cigar was already punched. Odd. Did someone lick it (like I do) before using a cigar punch on it? I'm going to look into to how and why they do this. I'll let you know if I find anything out.

Anyway, back to the smoke. I was slightly surprised by the smoothness of not only the cigar (medium bodied), but also the smoothness of the ash.

Unfortunately, because of the locations where I most often smoke cigars (car, garage, yard in mild wind), I don't get to test the ash to any recordable length. On this occasion however, I did have the get to let it grow to nearly an inch and was pleasantly surprised by its texture.

The strength maintained throughout without getting too bitter at the end and it has a bit of a creamy taste. Not pasty creamy, but pretty tasty creamy. The nostril sensation, when you allow your face to be enveloped in a cloud of smoke, was nicely stimulating.

These cigars can be found online for as little as $1.25 each in boxes of 50 making them a very suitable candidate for an everyday cigar.

My rating is 87. What does that mean? I dunno. But it sounded about right. :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

You know it's not the right place to buy a cigar when....

Unless you're really desperate, here are some tips on where not to buy cigars.
Do not buy a cigar from an establishment if:

They also sell porn.

They even stock Tiparillos and those little R.G. Dun flavored cigars.

You inquire about a "cameroon" and are taken to the cookie section.

They're  crushing up White Owls and smoking them out of a hookah.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Does anyone at your local cigar store know anything about cigars?

I think we all know that the best place to buy cigars and get a great deal is on the internet. There are literally hundreds of places to find cigars, and many of them have exceptionally good prices even considering the additional charges for shipping.

But dammit, there's nothing quite like meandering around a walk-in humidor and exploring new or forgotten smoking options.

One of the big problems finding a local tobacconist is that a lot of these little mom and pop cigar shops only have a humidor to supplement their income from selling hookahs and cigarettes and there probably isn't anyone there who knows the first thing about cigars.

I stop by five or six different establishments from time to time, and have come to know what they carry which fits my taste and budget. But sometimes it's frustrating when you're looking for a recommendation for a new smoking experience. If the proprietor or employee isn't a cigar smoker, they're probably going to recommend a cigar that isn't moving or what the salesman told them is a big profit item.

One cigar shop which I used to frequent hired a kid in his early 20s to man the store. When I walked into the humidor it was at least 80 degrees and the humidity was well over 85%. I asked "the kid" why the humidor was set so high and he informed me that when it's set that high it keeps the cigars moist (aka: wet) and they are perfect to smoke an hour after purchasing. What???

I asked him if there was any extra charge for the cigar beetles obviously hatching and destroying the cigars.

On another occasion, I stopped in a tobacconist and noticed that the machine-rolled robusto rejects were priced at $5 a stick. When I asked why they were so expensive, I was told that they use very high quality tobacco to create these cigars. Again, WHAT??? These were the same cigars that you can buy anywhere for a buck and a half (not that you ever should).

First rule: unless it's an emergency, never buy a cigar from a place that has their humidor on the counter (probably without a humidification system or hygrometer). Second rule: if you're new to the store, ask the proprietor for a recommendation of a six dollar, medium bodied cigar and see what they come up with. It's usually immediately clear if they have a clue.

I'm lucky enough to live close to two excellent sources of cigars, Smokers Only in Eastpointe, Michigan and probably the second best cigar store on the planet, JR Cigars in Southfield, Michigan (the first best being their original store in South Carolina).

Please email me your cigar store recommendations, locations and horror stories to

Monday, September 13, 2010

Brutally random cigar thought and cigar euphemisms for taking a dump

Color blindness defies cigar wrappers

One out of every two times (that's almost 50%) I try to wear a pair of black pants, I end up with dark blue ones instead. I even go so far as to hold the pants up to a bright light bulb and take the pants into different rooms to verify their blackness.

Then, sure enough, when I get to an office building with florescent lighting, the goddam things are blue. Obviously blue. Doesn't-go-with-the shirt-and-tie blue.

On the other hand, my eye has no trouble distinguishing a Dominican Sumatra cigar wrapper from an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper.

I'm just sayin.'

Cigar Euphemisms for Taking a Dump

Here's just a few. You got any?

Pinching a Partaga

Dropping a Dominican

Clipping a Corona

Making a Macanudo

Ripping a Robusto

Churning a Churchill

Flinging a Fuente

Heavin' a Havana

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Flor de Oliva bundles bury bigger budget butts

I have loved Oliva Cigars since I first gently bit into and lit one many years ago. And I always said that their cigars (expecially their bundled maduros, in my opinion) we worth considerably more than they were charging for them. So, I guess I shouldn't complain that their prices over the years have increased to be in line with the quality of these fine Nicaraguans.

The Maduro robusto bundles feature a medium to full-bodied cigar (5 x 50) with all Nicaraguan long filler. Sweet? Kind of. Nutty? A bit. Great taste and burn for a cigar costing much less than comparable quality cigars? Absolutely!

Although the price increase over the years has kept it from being my everyday smoke, I still pop for a bundle every now and then and make it my number one in-between cigar.

Part of my criteria for judging a cigar is how well it handles re-lighting (a reality in all of our lives since finding the opportunity to smoke an entire cigar is rare) and the Oliva bundle cigars can take a biting and keep on lighting. The Oliva bundled cigars are all long-filler, expertly hand-rolled and create a sturdy ash that compares to much more expensive sticks.

You will still find them online for about $35.00 for the natural and $50.00 for the maduro in bundles of 20. I'm quite certain they used to always come in bundles of 25, further inflating the price. But still an amazing deal.

I first discovered Flor de Oliva cigars probably 12 or 15 years ago. At that time I had some Cigar Pages on one of my comedy web sites. Those pages are still there, even though they're quite outdated. Feel free to visit them and send me insulting emails about how lame they are.

Back then, I did a review of the Oliva bundles which was ultimately found and read by Jose Oliva, of the Oliva family. He contacted me, thanked me for the positive review and proceeded to send me a bundle of the robustos and a box of their new (at the time) box-pressed cigars. A very nice and appreciated gesture. Now, if I could only get all of the other cigar manufacturers to do the same, I could save a big pile of money and take care of some of the other "necessities" in my life.

I keep telling the kids that the powdered milk is going to taste a lot better once Daddy gets the water turned back on. But look at that ash. :)

Based on taste, burn and price, these cigars get 8 out of 10 smoke rings.

Friday, September 3, 2010

La Finca Cazadore - Does it pass the initial inexpensive cigar test?

Aside from showering and brushing my teeth, there are very few things that I do everyday. I don't watch television every day, I don't eat breakfast every day, I don't have sex every day (at least not that anyone else knows about). But one thing I do do every day is smoke a cigar.

Of course, I'd love to smoke a Cohiba or Romeo y Julieta every day, but hey, I'm just a dime-a-dozen, cheap, two-bit stand up comic with three kids and grown-up responsibilities. 
A while back, I went into one of my local tobacconists to purchase a bundle of Flor de Olivas when I noticed that they now carried La Fincas in bundles. I know I've smoked this Nicaraguan before, and my recollection was that I liked it. So, I put back the Flor de Oliva's and bought a bundle of La Finca Cazadore's at only $19.95 for a bundle of 25. Wow! What a great way to fill out the empty space in your humidor.

The Cazadore's are a 45 ring x 6.5 inch cigar, pretty full bodied with an almost creamy taste. I fired it up in my garage (more on good places to smoke later). The first time I smoke a new brand I like to make sure I'm in a wind-free environment. After ingniting the stick I took a big draw and created a cloud directly in front of my face. Not bad for an all-filler cigar.

The La Finca definately passed my initial test. I liked the strength and lack of bitterness. It may be a bit too strong for those of you who like a mild or medium-bodied cigar, but it you like to combine smoothness with a bit of a nose membrane burn, you'll love these reasonably priced cigars.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Welcome to the cigar blog for REAL cigar smokers

I love a good cigar. Unfortunately, the cigars I enjoy most are way out of my price range. Let's face it, Cigar Aficionado magazine is out of my price range. You can imagine how annoyed they get at my local tobacconist when I stand there reading the latest issue cover to cover while smoking my $1.19 robusto reject.

Fact is, Cigar Aficionado and other elitist cigar publications aren't directed at the average cigar smoker. With the phenomenal popularity of lighting up a decent Dominican or a nice Nicaraguan, it's the basic Joe and Joanne who are frequenting the countless tobacco shops that are popping up on street corners and in strip malls everywhere.

I'd love to smoke a $30 cigar while sipping on a snifter full of $90 single malt scotch. But, in the meantime, I'll continue my quest for a decent $2 smoke while drinking my Lauder's on the rocks.

So, Welcome to the cigar blog for the rest of us. Please feel free to email me your thoughts and discoveries. And check back often. I will be reviewing cigars, accessories, publications and whatever the hell I feel like.